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Exercise and your immune system

Exercise and your immune system

Exercise and your immune system

Most people with lymphatic conditions understand the importance of exercise to encourage lymphatic movement. Do you also understand that your lymphatic system drives your immune system and that exercise can benefit your immune response as well?

Physical activity promotes the movement of the immune system (lymphatic system) via white blood cells to more locations where viruses and bacteria can be identified. Not only does exercise get the immune cells moving throughout the body during activity, but it also promotes a lasting presence of these immune cells for up to three hours after exercise is completed. This provides extra time for the immune cells to identify unwanted intruders and keep you from getting sick.

With consistent exercise comes more time for immune cells to patrol the body for bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it’s beneficial to get into a routine of moving your body rather than exercising just occasionally.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean running or going on a lengthy hike; start small and adjust your routine as needed. Do short bursts of activity throughout your day if you can’t do it all at once; some movement is better than none.*

If exercise can boost the immune system through movement and muscle contraction then any activity that improves lymphatic function should also improve the immune system. 
This might include:
  • Lymphatic Drainage massage
  • Nutrition
  • Less stress.
Lymphatic function in autoimmune diseases
Lymphatic vessels are critical for clearing fluid and inflammatory cells from inflamed tissues and also have roles in immune tolerance. Given the functional association of the lymphatics with the immune system, lymphatic dysfunction may contribute to the pathophysiology of rheumatic autoimmune diseases. Here we review the current understanding of the role of lymphatics in the autoimmune diseases rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, and dermatomyositis and consider the possibility that manual therapies such as massage and acupuncture may be useful in improving lymphatic function in autoimmune diseases.
Keywords: lymphatics, autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, lymphatic massage.
Schwartz, N., Chalasani, M. L. S., Li, T. M., Feng, Z., Shipman, W. D., & Lu, T. T. (2019). Lymphatic function in autoimmune diseases. , , 519.

*Adapted from Laura Birkel, RD, CD, Gundersen Nutrition Therapy. https://www.gundersenhealth.org/health-wellness/move/exercise-and-your-immune-system

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